I never figured I’d ever get married again. Didn’t think I’d ever want to. Not after the fiasco that was five years of being shackled, hand and foot, to Melissa James.

And it took a while, I have to admit. Another five years to get over the first five. But then Avery moved to Waterfield, and hired me to renovate her Aunt Inga’s house, and she was everything Melissa wasn’t. Short. Sassy. Argumentative. A little bit crazy. Careless and curious and always putting herself in harm’s way.

When I saw that garden shed on fire the other day, and I realized she wasn’t in the house, my heart about stopped. And when she came crawling out, just before the shed collapsed into cinders… well, that’s when I finally knew there were worse things than getting remarried. At least if we’re husband and wife, that won’t happen again. She won’t put herself in danger without me being there to take care of her.

So today’s the day. I’ve already planned out all the details. She’s been laid up since yesterday morning with burns and smoke inhalation, so it’s been easy to keep them from her. Usually it’s not. Avery isn’t the kind of woman who appreciates things going on behind her back, you know what I mean?

Anyway, I’ve asked Peter and Jill for the use of their speedboat. As soon as the television crew leaves—and good riddance!—the two of us will head out to Rowanberry Island. It’s been a crazy week, and we can both use a break. We still own the house out there—as Melissa says, people with enough money to buy a 225 year old center-chimney Colonial on an island on the edge of the Atlantic, don’t grow on trees—and we may as well take advantage of the nice weather. This is Maine; it won’t last forever. Another few weeks and we’ll have frost overnight, no doubt.

I’ve had Kate working on a picnic basket—tuna fish sandwiches, since that’s what we ate most of the time we spent out there working on the house. That’s what we ate while we were working on Aunt Inga’s house too, last summer. I fell in love with Avery over tuna fish sandwiches and Aunt Inga’s kitchen table. Whoopie pies for dessert, since they’re Avery’s favorite, and champagne, for the occasion. Crystal glasses and cloth napkins and even a little vase. There are plenty of flowers out there on the island; I’ll find some to put in the vase when we get there. Forget-me-nots would be nice, if they’re in season.

Kate put the ring on top of one of the whoopie pies. Stuffed it in deep enough that it won’t fall out and get lost, but not so deep that Avery won’t notice the diamond. At least I hope she’ll see it. It’d be a shame if she didn’t and ended up eating it.

It’s my mother’s ring. I never gave it to Melissa; my mom was still alive when Melissa and I got married, and she never offered it to me. In retrospect, I guess that should have told me something about my mother’s feelings about her soon-to-be daughter-in-law.

She would have liked Avery. It’s a shame they never got to meet. But dad and Cora like Avery too, and mom would have liked Cora, as well. She wouldn’t have wanted my dad to be lonely. She would have wanted him to remarry if he wanted to, and she and Cora would have gotten along well. She’d have been happy that dad’s happy. Same with me; she wouldn’t have wanted me to be alone for the rest of my life, either.

Anyway, the ring was hers. She would have approved of my giving it to Avery. Dad and Cora approve. Kate, of course, approves. She’s been trying to put us together since the beginning. I think that’s probably why she talked Avery into hiring me in the first place. Wayne approves. Josh and Shannon approve. Peter and Jill approve.

Everyone approves. Except Melissa, but she can take her disapproval and stuff it.

I just hope Avery approves.

I think she will.

But just in case, maybe you’d be willing to help me out with some crossed fingers and—if you’re inclined that way—some prayers? It isn’t every day a man proposes to the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with, and I’ll take all the help I can get.

Thanks!


You can read more about Derek in Wall-to-Wall Dead, the sixth book in the “Do-It-Yourself” mystery series. The first book in the series is Fatal Fixer-Upper.

** Thanks to the publisher, I have one (1) copy of WALL-TO-WALL DEAD to give away. Contest open to residents of the US only. Contest ends September 24. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. **

Meet the author
Jennie Bentley/Jenna Bennett writes the New York Times bestselling Do-It-Yourself home renovation mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, as well as the Amazon bestselling Cutthroat Business mysteries for her own gratification. For Entangled Publishing, she writes a variety of romance, from contemporary to futuristic and from paranormal to suspense. You can find out more about her doings and undoings on her website, www.jenniebentley.com and on Facebook.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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